I lumbered along the Dauset trail in middle Georgia wheezing from the heat, lurching through roots and rocks with my mouth hanging open, sucking soggy air that gave me nothing. Just put your tires on the dirt and roll a little while, that was all I wanted. 95 degrees at 6 O’clock, I could blame that. Suffocating 78% humidity, I can definitely blame that. Consecutive weeks of road and air travel, driving in the rutted out lanes of FL Highway 20, twin tracks full of water and methed out passers over double yellow lines, that– or freefalling in my seat as the Bombardier CRJ200 thumps through billowing nimbus clouds dropping into the Atlanta airport, where more germs than an elementary school await, life on the road ain’t easy.
I pulled up at a picnic table to sort things out. Let’s just get real here Juancho, you feel like shit and you’re riding like a middle age traveling salesman.
I stripped off helmet, gloves, and sweat gutter, then noticed I was not alone. A lone doe watched me from 20 yards away in the edge of the trees, curious with ears pointed forward. How does one call a deer? I tried the skich,skich, skich, and the smch, smch, smch but it just watched me. I threw some dried mango on the ground, ran the hose over my head, then geared up for the sad ride back to the van.
I needed something, some magic, so I put off I-75 for a little bit longer and barreled down GA 42 to Indian Springs State Park. A lead pipe trickles sulphorous water in a stone spring-house, and the locals believe it will heal you. A couple is busy filling dozens of containers: milk jugs, jerry cans, Gatorade bottles, Coleman thermoses, two-liter Mountain Dew bottles, and more. The woman motions me to the spigot and I fill a water bottle. The man silently totes the full containers up the hill to his car over and over without stopping.
I want to ask them what they think about the water, why they covet it so highly, but instead I just climb the hill back to the van. Back on the interstate, with 8 lanes of traffic blasting north, I wrinkle my nose at the egg smell and gulp it down.
You sure there wasn’t a statue of a saint at that water spigot? Sure sounds like the descriptions of the desperates of the Middle Ages that I’ve been reading about.
I grew up in Roseland, Florida drinking sulphur water that was so sulphur that it left great slimy clotty things of black and yellow streaming from the pipes and yet, we drank it. Perhaps any health and vitality I have comes from that water.
It sure tasted rank but it didn’t kill us.
And thus, as with all water, was holy.